With ten minutes to go at Stamford Bridge, Louis van Gaal calls over his final substitute. But instead of getting prolific goalscorer Robin van Persie to get stripped ready for action Van Gaal points to young defender Tyler Blackett and brings him on for the late push.
The Manchester United manager’s Dutch compatriot must have been seething inside. That kind of climax to a game is the type that a striker in Van Persie’s mould is built for.
Now when it was announced that Van Gaal was taking over at Old Trafford is was suggested that he’d be the man that would get the Dutch striker playing at his best again. It was also said at the time, that Van Persie may even become the new Man Utd captain.
But things haven’t quite worked out for Robin again this season.
Fans and certain pundits made ridiculous comments suggesting that David Moyes had ruined Van Persie’s year last season but in truth that was just people spouting rubbish.
The fact is that Robin has a pretty poor injury history. In the last seven years, he’s only truly been fully fit for three of them, at a push four. In fairness he’s shown in those seasons that he can be extremely prolific. There can be no doubting his immense talent, we just haven’t seen enough of it lately.
Even during this term, which has been very stop start, the striker has managed ten goals in twenty-four league appearances. But he simply doesn’t contribute enough to the team, when he constantly breaks down with all these niggling injuries.
For the past two seasons he seems to have lost a bit of pace and some of his desire.
Obviously the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson was a huge blow. Rio Ferdinand has stated that it was hard for all the United players, but in particular Van Persie…
“The person it hit more than anyone was Robin. He’d come the year before, tasted that success and wanted more.
“Visually you could see it hit him harder than anyone else at the time.”
The United number twenty would later agree with that assessment…
“Rio is a great guy. He talks a lot but there is some truth in that.
“My decision to come to Manchester was partly because of the presence of Ferguson, or excuse me, Sir Alex. And he told me he’d stay for another three years. I enjoyed his approach.
“We were once 18 points clear of City but we lost at home 2-1. We were still 15 points ahead but he was furious. Then I realised: he’s a winner.”
But as I said earlier, the hiring of Louis van Gaal was seen as a move to get more out of the international forward. But alas it hasn’t worked.
Last season, I personally think he put the Netherlands ahead of United in his priorities and focused on bing fit for the World Cu, rather than help Moyes and his United teammates when the chips were down.
Some people will talk about Van Gaal’s rules on how much training you do to prove yourself after an injury and that Van Persie had only had a week training with the squad. But if he’s fit enough for the bench, then I am thinking he was fit enough to play the last ten minutes. James Wilson wasn’t on the bench, so if Van Persie wasn’t fit enough then Wilson could have secured that spot. I just think when push came to shove, Louis didn’t think his Dutch striker was up to the task.
Now maybe the best thing that could happen for all concerned is if Robin left Old Trafford and tries to resurrect his career in another country.
Loanee Radamel Falcao hasn’t shown us any reason why United will keep him on beyond this term but Man Utd have constantly linked with moves for Memphis Depay and PSG’s Edinson Cavani. Over the weekend they’ve also been mentioned alongside Porto hitman Jackson Martinez and Villa’s Christian Benteke. Say they get two out of those forwards, would Van Persie relish the challenge to prove himself all over again in the English Premier League. Or would he just have another stalled season?
Would anyone be interested in Robin Van Persie?
Well his goal to game ratio is still extremely good. He proved at last years World Cup that he can still score world-class goals, that other players can only dream about.
But would a big club want to spend hard cash on a player who has suffered from various injury problems in the past two seasons? At thirty-one he may just be past his peak too. I seriously doubt United could get much of the £24m back that they paid for his services in 2012.
With only a year left on his current contract, it has been suggested that the Man Utd board would be willing to offer a lucrative pay-off that will mean he’s off their wage bill in the summer and free to go elsewhere.
That could then lead to sides like Juventus, PSG and Lazio taking more of an interest in the marksman. Who may thrive in a new league and country.
Van Persie arrived in Manchester after a summer long transfer saga and came with a transfer fee that reached £24m. In his debut season, his twenty-six goal haul helped Manchester United secure a league title win in Fergie’s last year at the club. That one year alone was enough to cement Robin’s legacy at the ‘Red Devils’.
But alas Robin van Persie can’t live off that season forever. For his own sake, if nothing else, he needs to seriously think about leaving England this summer and try and get his career back on track with a fresh start elsewhere. Wasting away another year can’t be an option!